Using Student Learning Objectives in Performance-Based Compensation Systems: A Guide for Successful Implementation

Ellen Cushing

With the introduction of new federal and state initiatives such as the Teacher Incentive Fund, Race to the Top, and School Improvement Grants , focus has been increasingly on determining teacher effectiveness and linking those ratings to compensation decisions. One challenge states and local education agencies (LEAs) across the country regularly face is identifying measures of student growth that are rigorous and comparable1 for all teachers, especially those in nontested grades and subjects.

Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) have recently come to the forefront as a potential solution for measuring student growth, particularly for educators in subjects or grades not covered by a state standardized assessment. When states and LEAs use measures of student growth to inform evaluation and compensation decisions, ensuring that the measures are fair, rigorous, and comparable is important. This paper discusses the steps for using SLOs as a measure of growth and identifies key considerations for successful implementation. In addition to this overview, the paper highlights two districts that have successfully integrated SLOs into their performance-based compensation programs.